How to Maintain a Good Work/Life Balance
(The Serene Saint of Balancing Your Work and Life has an affinity for mushrooms. Not the drug kind, mind you.)
I'm mostly going to be addressing those of you (like me) who work for yourselves and/or work from home. That entrepreneur life!
It's been a roller coaster ride for me, having my own business. I'm still figuring out things like marketing, inventory, keeping records of expenses, and staying motivated while completing projects in a timely manner. Being your own project manager is taxing, y'all!
Although I don't have the work / life balance thing down-pat, I know in theory what to do. Thus, I've compiled a list and am sharing it with you, as well as to give myself some encouragement to keep going and stay chill.
Having your own business usually means that you're frazzled and feel overwhelmed, like your to-do list is never-ending. Well, it is never-ending, that part is true. But you can stay organized with these 5 tips:
1. Have Set Hours for EVERYTHING
Being strict about when you begin and end work can make all the difference! Sometimes I roll out of bed and immediately start creating. This isn't such a fabulous idea.
"But Marni! If the muse strikes...!" I'm also of the mindset that the Muse ought to strike whenever you require her to; and by that, I mean, don't be a slave to your creative inklings. Write down the flashes of genius you have before you sleep at night or when you wake up, by keeping a notebook on your nightstand, and then when you start your day, shower, eat, and brush your teeth like a normal person. And put on real clothes. I mean, just because you work from home doesn't mean you get to be a slob.
I usually begin my workday at 8am. I break for lunch sometime between 11am-1pm, depending on whether I'm hungry, still deep into a project, or running errands. I then take a beat and reassess what I've accomplished in the morning, and continue work until around 4pm. I start considering dinner, and perhaps take a nap (more on the nap thing later.) My work day ends around 5pm. I'm being very strict as a reminder to myself to STOP WORKING in the evening and enjoy some time just reading (for pleasure), eating, and watching the sunset from my gorgeous west-facing porch.
Also consider answering emails and being on social media only during certain times of the day. These things are time-sucks and need to be curbed.
2. Take Breaks (and not just to look at your phone!)
(TURN OFF THAT PHONE! Looking at your phone doesn't constitute as a "break.)
(But looking at this flower would...! BEAUTY IS ALL AROUND YOU)
A "break" might include the following:
- enjoying a cup of tea / coffee
- eating a snack
- going for a quick walk
- standing up and stretching; doing a quick yoga sequence
- reading a chapter in your current book
- a quick nap
- flipping through a magazine
- doing a sudoku or crossword puzzle
- step outside and take some deep breaths
- sit for a minute or two and listen to the silence; let your mind wander
- if you have a pet, play with it and de-stress for a minute
- arrange some freshly cut flowers in a vase
- tidy up your desk area
- massage your face
Some of these might seem odd, but these are all things that I have done / am prone to do on a break. Your list might look different, and that's ok! The thing to bear in mind is - take a break and let it be about something tangible and physical, not centered on looking at a screen.
3. Join a Gym or Go for a Walk
(Post-work-out face. It's summertime, so, sweat.)
When I began my business, I found that my day was eaten up by doing. I was also extremely motivated to work hard, get clients, and see the day through until the end...! However, when it came to taking care of myself, and specifically remembering to exercise, I had no motivation left. Joining a gym was the best thing for me! I have to shell out an extra $50 a month for this, but I go to my gym because of the group classes. Yoga and weight-lifting have been perfect for my health issues and lifestyle, and the camaraderie I feel from doing group exercise is the main motivator. I know I'll see my friends when I go, I'll get some endorphins, and I'll take my mind off work for a bit.
If you can't get to a gym, there's a treasure trove of exercise videos on Youtube - yoga, weightlifting, pilates, tai chi, high intensity interval training...the list goes on and on, thank you, YOUTUBE! Be diligent about setting aside 30 minutes for this. You'll soon love the time of day that you get to focus on your body and keeping it in shape.
Hate exercising? At least go for a walk. Moving around for at least 15 minutes a day is better than a sedentary lifestyle.
4. Don't Work on the Weekends, or at Least on Sunday
I've heard all sorts of tactics for this: a no-screen weekend, deleting certain social media apps so they won't tempt you, not setting foot near your desk / studio area so as to create healthy weekend habits...whatever you can do to help yourself, try and NOT WORK at least one day a week. Do nothing involving creating, sending emails, balancing your budget, or even viewing other people's creative work on social media. If you're a workaholic like me, it's a slippery slope, and if I'm not careful I'll just work 7 days through!
So, what to do instead?
- Call a friend or family member and meet up, at a mall, at a park, for brunch, for coffee.
- Go to church.
- Go hiking.
- Ride your bike.
- Go on a day-trip to another city.
- Go to the library and just look at books for a few hours.
- Attend a festival.
- Look on Eventbrite, Facebook Events, or Meetup for ideas on taking a class, joining a new activity, or starting a new hobby.
- Go to a museum
5. Share Life with Friends and Family
(Enjoying a day at Busch Gardens with a whole fam! Mom and Inwook pictured here.)
This ties in with the previous few tips. When you're not working, and friends and family have time to come around, take advantage of that time! You could Google things like "100 things to do on the weekend" and then go do them with that loved one. Let's use the analogy, "When you're on your deathbed...will you wish you worked more?" Most likely not. Family and friends are precious; making and keeping good relationships takes time. When you're tempted to flake out and tell a friend that you can't meet them, think twice and just go for it. You'll more than likely be glad that you took the time off of work and spent it on sharing memories with your people.
What are some of your tips for maintaining a good work / life balance? Are you a workaholic like me?